I’m not talking about nabbing those heart shaped chocolate assortments that stores are trying to liquidate after Valentines Day, and I’m definitely not talking about that crazy scene from Indiana Jones…
What does it actually mean to take heart?
This was the theme of the Deep Freeze retreat at Camp Luther that I attended in January with some of our youth, and it will be their theme for the entirely of 2019. It’s based on John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” I invite you to pick that apart a little bit with me…
Right before this verse, Jesus was warning his disciples that he would be leaving soon. That doesn’t seem like a very peace-giving thing! In fact, at the beginning of the chapter Jesus warns that a time is coming when they will be kicked out of synagogues and their lives will be threatened! That definitely doesn’t sound peaceful! But, here’s the thing: Jesus doesn’t promise that our lives will be peaceful. He says “I have said these things to you” (giving them a heads up) “that in me you may have peace.” This peace that Jesus promises only comes through him and in him! HE is where we find our peace–in knowing that he has overcome the world!!
Next, Jesus states “In the world you will have tribulation.” Again, this doesn’t seem like great news. He doesn’t say that things might be difficult. He doesn’t say that we might not always get our way. He says we will have tribulation. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be facing something difficult, I’d rather know ahead of time so that I can be prepared! If I already know that something is going to be difficult, I’m less likely to give up. If I already know that something is going to be difficult, I won’t be quite so frustrated when I hit an obstacle. If I already know that something is going to be difficult, I will be much more persistent and dedicated as I deal with those difficulties. Jesus gave us a heads up because he knew that we would face many obstacles in this life. He knew that there would be many things stealing our peace.
Last is my favorite part of this verse: “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” It’s like Jesus is telling us “Don’t worry, I’ve still got this – I always have!” Jesus has already won the final battle for us. We might still feel like we’re in the middle of the battlefield, but the war has been won! Jesus has already defeated our adversary and we are NOT subject to the eternal consequences of his tyranny, but unfortunately, we do still need to trudge through some of the crud that comes from Satan’s influence in our lives. We WILL have trouble, but it’s okay, because it’s not eternal trouble. We can look that trouble dead on and say “No big deal; Jesus has already covered me.” We can shake it off, and get on with our day. THAT is the peace that Jesus promises. He doesn’t promise that our lives will be sunshine and rainbows, but that our lives belong to HIM!
I mentioned earlier that I was blessed to spend some time digging into this verse with our youth at Camp Luther earlier this winter. This ministry is such an incredible blessing to our district, and to so many individuals at Immanuel! We have many students and families that participate in their programs every year, and get to experience growth and fellowship in beautiful ways! Camp Luther trains and sends High School and College students to go out as witnesses and servants every year, and I am very fortunate to be on the LONG list of workers that has been shaped and influenced by this incredible ministry. On Sunday, March 3rd you will have the opportunity to hear more about the impact that Camp Luther is having on lives, and how you can help to support these programs. Please join us, and please consider how God might be calling you to be part of the process whether that is through prayer, participation, or partnering with them through financial support.
Tara Barrett, DCE